Archive for the ‘Photomatix’ Tag

Boats on Somes Sound in Early Morning Fog, Maine   9 comments

Boats on Somes Sound in early morning fog, Maine


Ahhhhh… This was the view from our campsite while we were at Acadia National Park/Mt. Desert Island. Placid water, cool temperatures, and mysterious fog rolling through Somes Sound made for one of those delightfully perfect mornings. No coffee was necessary to be fully alert in a place like this.


In a departure from my usual workflow, I took a new tack by merging three frames in Photomatix to create an .HDR file, but instead of tonemapping in Photomatix, edited the resulting file in 32-bit, then 16-bit mode directly in Photoshop. Since I’ve tended to post-process in a more ‘realistic’ style lately, the steps were perfect for the look I wanted to achieve.

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Circus Life   7 comments

Circus Life


I’m sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything of my own. Life has been a circus around here.

We’ve been keeping close to home most days, working on the expanded gardens. No matter how many hours we’re out there, at the end of the day we always have something more to do. (Totally worth it for the organic veggies.)

I hope to get back into the swing of things photographic, and to catch up with everyone as soon as possible. In the meantime, please enjoy this scene taken at a local ‘museum’, of sorts.

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Elbow Grease   13 comments

Elbow Grease


Sometimes, you just get lucky.

We were driving through a rural area and passed by an interesting place, so we wanted to turn around to check it out. Just before our turn out, we saw a man and woman approaching an old, abandoned house through a yard full of weeds and grasses. As we passed the house again, we noticed the woman standing on the porch.

The place we wanted to see was closed, so we turned back to our original route. As we approached the abandoned house once again, we saw the couple waving us down. Perhaps there was some sort of trouble.

The couple had seen us passing by for the third time and thought that we were ‘locals’ who were checking them out. As they told us later, “Everyone around here is related, so we thought it would be a good idea to let you know that this house belongs to our family.” Good information to have on both counts, I thought.

We heard their interesting story about how the man and his sister had been adopted by different families, and had only found each other recently after a 17 year search. The old house had belonged to the sister’s father, who passed away some time ago, leaving the house unoccupied.

Being the curious sort – and, of course, armed with a camera and tripod – I asked if I could poke around a bit. What had once been a beautiful old farm house was now collapsing in on itself. Along the front and sides, all of the doors and windows were blocked with plywood. Rats! (Um, not real rats. I just couldn’t see inside.) Around back, though, there was an old mud room door with no glass in the windows, just some loose cardboard that had seen better days.

“Would you mind if I just stuck my camera through this window?”, I asked. I find it never hurts to ask. “No problem.”

It was so dimly lit inside that I didn’t even know what was in there, and given the musty, moldy smell coming through, I wasn’t about to go inside. Apparently, it had been quite some time since the detergents and mops were used there.

The “skylight” is courtesy of last year’s Hurricane Irene, which had peeled back a significant portion of the tin roof. It’s a look.

It’s just a simple Rurex (Rural Exploration) composition – one not particularly noteworthy, at that – but it gave us the chance to stop along our route, do a little exploration, meet some interesting people, and then check for ticks.

Pete and Kelly, if you see this on the blog, please drop me a line at my email address. Thanks for letting us peek into the old place. It was a pleasure to meet you.

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Grandfather’s Legacy   14 comments

Grandfather's Legacy


We recently had the pleasure of spending a day with Jeff, a new friend who builds the most amazing birdhouses out of timber and tin recovered from old barns, sheds, and smoke houses. Wandering about his rural property while chatting and taking photos, we got a better sense of his artistic inclinations. We already knew that he loved each of his birdhouse creations. What we discovered was that he seemed to be on a mission to repurpose old buildings, giving them a second life by saving them from inexorably melting into the landscape.

At his property, a quiet place dotted with sheds, cabins, and workshops, I noticed an irresistible old tractor peeking out from an open shed. As we had other places to visit, we had almost passed this by. It turned out that the tractor was more important than we knew…

The tractor is a ’55 Allis Chalmers B. Jeff’s wife’s grandfather owned it and used it to work his garden. He was a farmer for much of his life and he loved his tractor. Grandfather is now gone, but the tractor is being maintained almost as a monument to his memory, perhaps one of the last tangible reminders of the man who used it to till the land.

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BEWARE – An HDR Collaboration Project   9 comments


Time for another round of the HDR Collaboration project! This time, the brackets were hosted by Mark “Silent G” Gvazdinskas, but since he doesn’t yet have a blog, I offered to put his results here. Mark promised us all a free puppy if we hosted him. Personally, I like Black Labs.

If this is your first time visiting the HDR Collaboration project, in each round one contributor provides a set of image brackets to the group, and we apply our personal sense of style in post-processing. As we usually see in the results, there is a wide range of ‘personality’ that can be applied to a given image. A good image is created in post-processing in equal measure to the importance of composition, lighting, lens choice, and other factors, and it’s always fascinating to see how others ‘see’ the same picture.

Each photographer represented here has a body of work that speaks volumes to their talents. Please be sure to visit their pages, galleries, and blogs by clicking the links associated with each name.

So, Mark Gvazdinskas presents the following, but…. do BEWARE :


“Welcome to this installment of the HDR Collaboration Project!  This is my first time hosting brackets and second time participating—what an incredible opportunity it is to be working with these talented photographers. The usual suspects took part in this round: Mike “TheaterWiz” Criswell, Jim DenhamJacques “FotoFreq” GudéRob Hanson, Bob LussierMark Garbowski, and myself, Mark Gvazdinskas.

The images start with my own version so here goes:

BEWARE by Mark Gvazdinskas

“I don’t know about everyone else but I had a heck of a time with this set. I’ve shot this area in Marin Headlands, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, several times and have only once lucked out with sun. Naturally, that day I didn’t have the fisheye. Knowing this particular day would be foggy (in SF, GET OUT) I still made the trip up the winding road to grab this entire abandoned WWI/II bunker with the Nikkor 10.5mm/f2.8 Fisheye lens. I stood with my back to the corner and fired away — the bunker is maybe 10x10ft and the fisheye was the only way to grab all the tags and windows without pano gear. The fog made this especially tough as there truly wasn’t much background to work with, but rest assured this is one of the most rugged and gorgeous coastlines you’ll ever stumble upon (which is why I find the BEWARE tag to be so fitting) — views will take you all the way up Highway 1 to Muir and Stinson Beaches and leave the lonely Pacific Coast Highway trailing off in the distance. I personally love the eerie, foggy days in Marin Headlands. You can’t see the bridge but you know it’s there and all you can hear beyond the crashing waves is the bellow of a horn from Point Bonita Lighthouse — it feels like Shutter Island.

I used all the available brackets, put them through Photomatix 4.0, then into Lightroom 3 for some tweaking. Naturally Color Efex Pro and Focal Point 2 came into the mix, but only a couple layers since the background didn’t have much more than fog and an undetermined horizon.

I hope everyone had a good time with this set and thanks again for letting me share!”

BEWARE by Mark "Silent G" Gvazdinskas


BEWARE by Mike “Theaterwiz” Criswell:

“Thanks for the great brackets Mark aka Silent “G”, fun to play with for sure. This is actually a second version after I butchered the outside scene in the first by mistake. I ran all 9 brackets through Photomatix then started throwing all kinds of filters at the image, I think I started over 3 times in the process. Athough I had too many tweaks to even keep track of most everything was done in Topaz, I even used a hint of the new B&W effects plugin. I wanted to give the weird Alien art a presence and I wanted the inside of the bunker to have a nice warm glowing feeling without taking away from the foggy goodness of the outside scene. Thanks again for the brackets “G””

BEWARE by Mike "Theaterwiz" Criswell


BEWARE by Jim Denham:

“Thanks to Mark “Silent G” for supplying the brackets and to Rob for hosting this round of the collaboration project! Love this scene and how it really is two scenes in one – The graffiti covered building interior and the beautiful coastal scene on the exterior! Good stuff.

I focused on two things, the ‘Beware’ writing above the window on the right because it was the title of the image, and the scenic outdoors. Made a selection of the outdoor panels in order to edit them separate from the indoors. Darkened up the outside a bit and added some saturation, along with some sharpening. To the inside, I applied the Spicify preset from Topaz, then dodged the ‘Beware’ letters to make them standout a bit while darkening up the rest.”

BEWARE by Jim Denham


BEWARE by Jacques “Fotofreq” Gudé:

“Man, Silent “G”, what a great set of brackets.  Used to be I did not care for graffiti in URBEX environments, but I suppose I’ve come to appreciate some of the cool wall art out there.  In this shot, I really dug the ‘Beware’ graphics, together with that cool green dude, which is why I tried to accentuate those elements.  To process this one, I used only  seven of the brackets, dumping the darkest two.  After running those seven brackets through Photomatix, I pulled the resulting tone-mapped canvas into Photoshop CS5, together with the 5 lightest original bracketed shots.  After masking in the parts I needed to get the base look I envisioned, I used several of Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters, as well as Nik’s Viveza 2 to finish things off.  As always, my Wacom Intuos 4 tablet was indispensable in my post-processing.  Thanks a million for letting me work this set, Mark!”

BEWARE by Jacques "Fotofreq" Gudé


BEWARE by Rob Hanson:

“Thanks for the great set of brackets, Mark!

I found this to be an interesting subject. As I looked at the elements, it seemed that there were only a few ways to go, as the surroundings are fairly straightforward — no mysterious stairways, no dark secrets, no creepy asbestos hanging from the ceiling. Then I realized that my approach would lay in balancing the interesting, grungy interior with the sublime scenic view outside. Too much or too little in either direction would yield an unrealistic balance.

My result is based, then, on HDR Express and 32 Float, programs which render color well and provide a very realistic result. Float allowed me to create several 32-bit layers — one for the base, one to highlight the exterior, and one for the interior, masking in and out along the way. Once I had the overall balance where I wanted, I boiled the file down to 16-bit and went off in other directions.

In addition to bringing out the details and knocking down saturation in some areas, I used warming and cooling filters and dodging/burning to lead the eye where I wanted it to go — past the blue man and out the door.  I also took out some of the severe fisheye effect without removing it altogether… it just seemed a bit too bendy at first. Finally, I used my super-secret-patented* de-fringing technique to get rid of some obvious magenta fringe around the doorways. (* It’s no secret at all.)  In all, I had about 25 different layers during processing.

I really enjoyed processing this set, as it provided a unique challenge in balancing two disparate elements — the landscape view and interior grunge. Very interesting…”

BEWARE by Rob Hanson


BEWARE by Bob Lussier:

“Mr G, this is awesome. I’ve only been to the Bay area once. This image makes me want to go back and explore. I kept to a relatively straightforward processing style for this. After running the brackets through Photomatix, I used a couple of filters in onOne’s PhotoTools suite. Just a touch of Blue Dawn Leonidas and some sharpening. I reversed the mask on the sharpening layer and removed the effect on the outdoors portion of the image. I wanted to make sure the interior maintained a crusty, grungy feel, in contrast to the slightly soft outdoors.”


BEWARE by Bob Lussier

BEWARE by Mark Garbowski:

“These brackets nearly broke me. I don’t think it was anything inherent to the brackets. I think it was me, but the difficulty was real.

In my first attempt, I tried using the outdoor window views from one original bracket while heavily modifying the interior. It just ended up a chaotic, ugly mess with lots of halos and chromatic aberrations.

I’m still not in love with this result but I am at least satisfied with it. I applied the Tea Stained filter from On One to the Interior, then added the following Nik filters to the entire image: Pro Contrast, Skylight, and Brilliance/Warmth (with slider set to slightly cool). The last two filters somewhat counteract each other but I prefer the result to how it looks without either one applied. Go figure.

Finally, I added a lens correction in Photoshop because I personally was distracted by the curved doors and windows.

Silent G: I don’t think you meant it to be this hard but as it stands you challenged me and in the end i enjoyed it. Thanks.”

BEWARE by Mark Garbowski


Thanks for your entries, gentlemen. See you for the next round.







“Sorry. I Wasn’t Expecting Company.”   8 comments

The interior of a cluttered farm shed with rusty implements and an old refrigerator in North Carolina

"Sorry. I Wasn't Expecting Company."


Coming in with a late post for the day…

I worked this image up to go along with an article I wrote recently, highlighting the differences between accepting the simple output from one HDR program versus giving a set of brackets a lot of love with different tools and programs.

On Friday, 1/21/11 the article posted on, and can be found HERE.  It’s called Express Yourself… Completely!

Taken inside an old barn and shed on a local farm, this is turning out to be one of my favorite locations due to its ‘target rich’ environment. The owner graciously allowed me to wander around freely, so I was able to grab some great detail shots this time. Being respectful, I resisted the urge to see if there was any cold beer in the fridge.

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Nikon D7000, Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, 17mm at f/5.6, seven exposures +/-1EV using Promote Control. Photomatix Pro, HDR Express, 32 Float, Nik Color Efex Pro, and Photoshop all had a hand in this one… but that was exactly the point of the article!

Ruling the Roost – Photomatix Pro 4   2 comments

A peacock sits in an oak tree at the Joseph Jefferson mansion, New Iberia, Louisiana

I finally had a chance to open up the new Photomatix Pro 4 program, currently in public beta.  I had been looking forward to checking out some of the new features, particularly the anti-ghosting capabilities.

Some people have had mixed results with the anti-ghosting feature, but in the case of this bracket set it seemed to work very well.  I knew that the peacock had moved his head while I was shooting the bracket — which previously prevented me from bothering to process it — so I figured it would be a good test of the new Photomatix.

During processing, Photomatix Pro 4 allows you to draw a boundary around an area that is ghosted. From there, you can select Preview to see how Photomatix will handle the ghosting by pulling information from a single exposure.  If that doesn’t work out well, you have the choice of selecting another exposure, which I did in this case by choosing the -2EV frame.  Once this is done, you can proceed along in the usual fashion.

Just for grins, I ran the same bracket through the program without choosing the anti-ghosting features, which I assume is using much the same algorithm that Photomatix Pro 3 used.  The result of that pass was this:

While this was just my first pass with the program, things look pretty good.  There are other new features that I’ll talk about in future blog posts, so please do stay tuned.

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